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Joined: 28 August 2010
Virat gulped. "Did this man already know who I was?"
"V-V-Virat?" The prince watched as the shocked man stared at him, almost as if trying to disbelieve that the existence of such a person was standing in front of him. Shiv rubbed his eyes, not sure whether he was seeing correctly or not. He closed his eyes before opening them back up to see the infamous prince stand nervously. Virat sighed before putting his hand out for the latter to shake. It was a polite form of gesture he and his brother were taught about: how to show the perfect etiquette in manners. Shiv, confident that it was none other than Virat Singh Vadhera standing smirked a little. He grasped his given hand and gave a firm handshake. Shiv wondered about the irony of the situation, it was Virat's roka tonight and there he was, reddened in the face, in the early evening.
"Er," Virat was unsure of what to say. He had many practices in different situations of when meeting a public citizen but it seemed as if he had forgotten almost everything. "I'm glad to have met you and I wish I – I mean, we can talk but I'm sorry I'm running late." He rambled before turning back to make a clean getaway.
"Late for your roka?" Shiv replied, smirking. Virat nodded before suddenly stopping. He gave a sharp look at the man.
"How do you know?" Virat was flabbergasted. This was a man, whom he had only met two minutes ago and yet knew the most important thing in his life?
"Well, let's just say that my best friend who I care about so much is waiting there for her future sasural for her roka." He answered almost sharply, quick on his tongue.
The prince scrunched his face in thoughts. He wondered what this strange man was talking about before flashbacking to the very first thing he had talked about with Maanvi: Shiv.
He smiled. "Seems like Maanvi told me about you." He crossed his arms. "I'm Shiv. Maanvi's honewale pati." He smirked, trying to contain his laughter.
The final sentence hit Virat like an ice and a thorn spiking into his skin. His attention span was quickly contained as Virat, without thinking shouted a reply. "What?!" He didn't know what to think, he didn't even know what he was feeling. A mix of confusion, surprise and anger filled within him. His emotions became even stronger as Shiv started to laugh, clutching his stomach to subside the pain.
"Your reaction was hilarious!" Shiv chuckled. There was always something to laugh about in Shiv's eyes, no matter how serious or non-serious a situation can be. He sighed as the laughter started to fade and noticed Virat's anger infested eyes. He gulped as the thought of going too far entered his mind. "It was a joke! Don't worry, Mr Vadhera. Maanvi and I are only friends, nothing else."
The thoughts of that previous conversation came into view. Virat had asked her whether Shiv was her boyfriend or husband and how she had swiftly denied. He closed his eyes for a millisecond, trying to get rid of that memory before inwardly taking a deep breath and placing a smile on his face. "I knew that. I was just joking." He tried to say as his eyes automatically looked at the ground.
"Right…" Shiv wasn't so sure. "So Mr Vadhera –"
"Virat. You can call me Virat." He corrected.
"Okay. So Virat, what are you doing here when you should be at the roka? Or are you the only one coming?" Shiv smiled.
"Er…" Virat stuttered. "I – I wanted to meet Maanvi." His voice gradually became quiet.
"Kyuu? I mean, won't you meet her in the roka? What could be so important that you had to meet her now? Is it something like you disagreeing to this rishta?" Shiv became concerned. There was no way he was going to let Maanvi's life become destroyed. True, it was her decision to get married to the Prince of Chandrilasia but it was his duty as her friend to make sure that she has a happy life, even if it meant making sure the marriage goes smoothly.
Virat shook his head. "No, no. It's not like that. Actually, I just wanted to know if she was okay with this."
Shiv breathed in to calm himself down. He didn't like the fact that Virat was so confused about the wedding, after everything Maanvi sacrificed. Anger crept in. "Look, Virat. Maanvi is absolutely happy with this alliance. No matter what you say, she will always say yes. That's the sort of person she is, she'll sacrifice her life and happiness for everyone else. And here you are trying to stop that? Stop reminding her about what she'll miss by marrying you." He took a deep breath and sighed. "Okay fine. I know I don't like you, but please Maanvi is my friend. And I can't allow you or anyone else to hurt her."
The words woke Virat up. He didn't know what to say. Was what he doing so bad? He wanted to ensure that she was fine with it, but was he going to hurt her instead? He knew how morally strong Maanvi was but was he right to keep reminding her that she would never be able to have a real relationship with him? That they were never going to be husband and wife in true sense? He bowed his head down in defeat. Prince Virat Singh Vadhera has lost. In his foolishness, he had forgotten that the only victim in here was her. Whatever he does or will do will affect her in the long run. And he needed to respect that.
"I – I'm sorry." He said at last.
Shiv gave an assured smile. He was not the sort of person who would keep a grudge for much longer, no matter how much he disliked a person's attitude. Besides anyone who was related to Maanvi in any sense was related to him.
"It's fine. Look, go home. Go back to your family. Maanvi will be waiting for you." He looked at his watch. "You have like three hours before the roka." Virat nodded before leaving. "Wait." He turned back. "Just remember if you ever hurt her, I will hunt you down. Prince or no prince."
Virat nodded slowly. Deep down, he was glad that Maanvi had someone that she could trust. If only he could trust again, after everything that had happened.
Maanvi hummed as she shook the payals on her feet. It was her roka and she was content with everything: the atmosphere, the decorations, the genuine smiles on her family. She felt happy that everyone else was happy due to her.
"Maanvi!" A voice said as she felt a hand cover her eyes. "Guess who?"
Did she even need to think? "Shiv!" He smiled as he glanced at her and placed a bag of her favourite fruit in her lap. "You're so late yaar! But for getting me strawberries, you're forgiven."
He beamed. "As usual."
She took a bite out of the juicy strawberry and relished its sweet taste. "So, tell me? Why are you so late? It doesn't take you that long to shop now does it? Why? Did you meet a girl and started flirting or something?" She giggled.
Shiv thought about his early encounter. He smiled back. "Something like that. Anyway tell me how are the strawberries?"
"Very nice." She took a bite out of another.
"Areh, at least give me one!" He tried to steal one as she pulled away.
"No way, my strawberries. Get your own."
"You eat a lot."
"And what? These are my strawberries. Go back to the shop and get your own." She ate another as he thought about Virat. There was no way, he'll tell Maanvi.
The dejected prince entered the Palace as the future King ran outside, anger shown on his face. "Virat! Where were you? Do you know what you're messing about with? It's your roka tonight!"
"Yes, bhai. I know that. I'm sorry."
Virat's words were not going to be forgiven this easily, not today. For Viren, his younger brother had crossed all the limits tonight. "No. What are you playing with? Your life is not some joke that you can do anything, Maanvi…Maanvi is going to be in your life now. What would she think? How could you?" He sighed, shaking his head. Jeevika came in to calm her husband. She gave a slight smile to Virat to unnerve him but even that failed. Viren shook her arm off his shoulder as he stomped into the house.
Virat followed as he came into the view of the elders in his home. Everyone looked down on him: his Dadaji, his bua and mother. Virat felt guilty. He made a stupid mistake, like a young teenager who thinks on his emotions. "Prince Virat, go to your room and get changed. We have to go to Oceanah soon." His granddad ordered.
For once, Virat did as he was told. He walked up to him room and quickly got changed. He didn't even look at himself in the mirror, as he usually does as he knew that what he would see was his own saddened face. The palace suddenly seemed quiet. Almost too quiet. It was as if someone had died and everyone was mourning. Virat knew that it was his laughter, his happiness that had died years ago. He was not the same Virat as he was three years earlier, his life had been snatched away in the blink of an eye and he had retaliated by keeping everyone out of his life. In these last couple of years, he didn't even think of what he had been doing to his family…not until these last few days. Virat walked out of his room to see his family already gone out of the door. A tear fell out of his eyes as he sniffed. He walked down to see his bhabhi waiting for him. Virat instantly saw the hurt in her eyes.
"Bhabhi…" He whispered.
No reply. He walked up to her and bowed his head a little. "Virat.." She finally said. The silence broke, after all what mother-like bhabhi could upset her devar? "Why do you do this? Why do you hurt everyone time and time again? And I'm not talking about today. I'm talking about every time, every day when I see the hurt on dadaji's, bua's and ma's eyes. Even Virenji's."
The truth hurted. No, it killed. Especially to hear the truth from someone he loved dearly and was close to him. He looked at her, teary eyed. It was all true. He didn't care about anyone, it didn't even cross his mind that he was hurting people, albeit unknowingly.
"I don't know…" He whispered. He truly didn't. He didn't know why he hurt, nor why he was feeling guilty now.
"Virat. Whatever happened to you was not your fault nor was it ours! Whatever….whatever Maya did destroyed you, I know."
"Please. Don't take her name. I can't bear it." He shuddered and closed his eyes as if to protect himself.
"Fine, but that bad moment has passed now. At least now take us in? Why are you so scared, Virat? We won't hurt you." A tear fell down.
He couldn't even look at her. He wanted his family, so badly but he was just…defeated. Too much has happened, time has flown away so quickly that its difficult to make amends. Life had been great up until a few years back, sure he wasn't so close with his family especially his mother but after that moment, he had turned away everyone. It had even taken Jeevika and Viren long enough to get Virat to open up to them, but even then he still treasured the deep, darkest secrets about himself.
"Anyway." She sighed. "Leave it. Come on, Maanvi must be waiting for us."
Virat nodded, wiping away the tears and walked outside. Confusion crept in their faces as they looked for the other Royals. "Where are they?" Jeevika asked. She saw a guard running towards her.
"Rajkumari Jeevika!" He panted, and stopped to catch his breath. "Wo…Woh!"
"What happened? Where is Virenji and everyone else?" She began to get a little hysterical, she was scared of what was happening. In the background, a loud hustle of people was heard. It was almost as if they were shouting.
"There's a big problem, m'am! Villagers and town people have come here. They are very angry."
"What?" Jeevika ran towards the edge of the Palace, wanting to see her family. "Where is everyone?"
"Rajkumar Viren is trying to calm everyone down. The rest are in the car." Her heart dropped at the thought of her husband there, amidst the ruckus. She was scared of what would happen to him.
"But why? Why now?" Virat asked the guard.
"I don't know. Everything was fine, until a few minutes ago. I don't know much but I think it has something to do with the neighbouring city Areenia."
One word came up into their minds: Tanya.
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